Breaking Down Fiducia Supplicans

Yesterday the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Víctor Fernández, and with the approval of Pope Francis, released Fiducia Supplicans, which gives explicit approval for priests to impart a blessing on same-sex couples and couples in “irregular situations.” This declaration by the Vatican is another in a long line of shocking but sadly not surprising actions taken during the pontificate of Francis.

As commonly happens with such controversial documents, many Catholics are trying to blame the media for misrepresentations of the text. “The pope didn’t approve of blessings for same-sex relationships!” “This doesn’t change anything!” and other such nonsense. In an effort to determine what the document actually says, I’ve excerpted a number of paragraphs below with an explanation of its underlying meaning. The full text can be found at the link above.

1. The supplicating trust of the faithful People of God receives the gift of blessing that flows from the Heart of Christ through his Church. Pope Francis offers this timely reminder: “The great blessing of God is Jesus Christ. He is the great gift of God, his own Son. He is a blessing for all humanity, a blessing that has saved us all. He is the Eternal Word, with whom the Father blessed us ‘while we were still sinners’ (Rom. 5:8), as St. Paul says. He is the Word made flesh, offered for us on the cross.”[1]

The guiding principle of this document is that it is a teaching of Pope Francis, and Pope Francis alone. Of the 31 footnotes found at the end of the text, 20 of them (65%) reference the current pope. There is absolutely no attempt to situate this novel practice within the Catholic tradition; in fact, we’ll see later that Fernández presents this as a “broadening” of the theology of blessings.

4. Pope Francis’ recent response to the second of the five questions posed by two Cardinals[4] offers an opportunity to explore this issue further, especially in its pastoral implications. It is a matter of avoiding that “something that is not marriage is being recognized as marriage.”[5] Therefore, rites and prayers that could create confusion between what constitutes marriage—which is the “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children”[6]—and what contradicts it are inadmissible. This conviction is grounded in the perennial Catholic doctrine of marriage; it is only in this context that sexual relations find their natural, proper, and fully human meaning. The Church’s doctrine on this point remains firm.

The most insidious aspect of modern heresy is that it loudly proclaims itself to be orthodox. But it divorces orthodoxy from orthopraxy. So while Fernández affirms “the Church’s doctrine on this point remains firm,” the reality is that blessing sinful romantic relationships undermines that very doctrine.

Progressive Catholics like Fernández (and Francis) strictly compartmentalize human behavior. There is what we believe, and completely separate from that belief is how we act. So on the one hand we can vocally proclaim that we affirm the Church’s teaching on marriage, while on the other hand we take actions to attack the very foundations of that teaching.

Contrast this with the perennial Catholic principle of lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: “the law of what is prayed [is] what is believed [is] the law of what is lived.” Man is a unified composite of body and soul, and the soul is a unified composite of intellect, will, and the passions. It is anti-human to seek to separate these elements. Any physical action taken, including a blessing, imparts real meaning. If one takes an action that means one thing but then professes an opposing view, then one is either a schizophrenic or a liar.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine